Spacers for braces are technically called orthodontic separators. Braces are now common for treating teeth problems like aligning and correcting crooked, overcrowded and misaligned teeth including correcting mouth problems like underbite and overbite. Braces are often recommended by orthodontist to give you back your beautiful smile and boost your self-esteem. Before these braces are placed on your teeth, spacers are used to make room for the brackets that will fix the braces to your teeth.
Another name for the spacers are also dental spacers or teeth separators. Spacers are small metal or rubber separators that are placed between teeth to create gaps for braces to be fixed to the teeth. The spacers are usually about a centimeter in diameter. They are placed between the back teeth (molars), or between specific front or middle teeth, to create space before braces are fastened on.
TYPES OF SPACERS FOR BRACES
Spacers for braces can be made with different materials but there are two most common materials.
Metal Spacers for Braces
They look like small metal rings. They are usually used on patients who will be needing them for a month or more, they are meant to be used for a longer period of time even after the desired space is gotten, however they can also be used for short time too. After 1 or 2 weeks of inserting these metal spacers, they can become weak but would not fall out. Many people prefer this type of spacer because they do not have to visit their orthodontist for a long time.
Rubber Spacer for Braces
Unlike the metal spacers for braces, this type is used for short term purposes usually between 1 or 2 weeks. This is because they tend to fall off after the adequate space needed for the braces is gotten. Rubber spacers look like small rubber band.
WHY DO YOU NEED SPACERS FOR BRACES
Spacers are needed by most people who get braces. For braces to be fixed to the teeth, brackets are cemented to the surface of your teeth and connected with wires. The wires are anchored to metal bands, which look like rings, around some of your back teeth. Those back teeth are often wedged very closely together. Spacers for braces are used to create gaps between the teeth so that the braces can be installed.
HOW ARE SPACERS FOR BRACES INSERTED?
Spacers are usually placed a week or two before getting braces. To put the spacers between your teeth, a small tool or dental floss is used to stretch out each spacer first. After that, you open your mouth wide, and your orthodontist will wiggle each spacer into the place between your molars.
You may feel some pressure and a pinching sensation during the procedure as the spacer gets down toward your gumline.
ARE SPACERS FOR BRACES REMOVED?
Spacers are removed after the adequate space is gotten, sometimes they can be left together with the braces especially metal spacers. Removing spacers are not as difficult as inserting them, they are simple and takes just few seconds to get done. To remove spacers, your orthodontist will just pop them out of place with a small tool. If the spacers have done their job of making space, they should come out very easily and painless.
DO SPACERS FOR BRACES HURT?
Many people have different pain tolerance, this means that what is extremely painful to you may be less painful to another person. With spacers, some feel it is very painful while others feel that it is more irritating than painful. Spacers can be painful but the pain fades away with time. Research claim that the pain does get better pretty quickly.
A study conducted by the Journal of Orthodontic Science, Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2015 and published by the National Institute of Health, studied 62 adolescents and looked at the pain they felt with spacers. The study reported that the first 2 days after getting spacers were the worst in terms of pain. However, any initial soreness or pain from dental spacers being placed usually fades away after about four to six hours. You may experience some aching over the next couple of days while your teeth shift around.
For people who have little spaces or none between their teeth, they can feel intense pain because the spacers can cause irritation in the nerves. Others feel more pain when they eat or chew some foods.Most people do not get free from the pain and irritation of the spacers, they still feel the sensation that something is caught between their back teeth.
HOW TO RELIEVE PAIN FROM SPACERS
There are some tips on how you can relieve the pain you feel, some of them are:
Gargling with Warm Saltwater
Salt is good for reducing inflammation and swelling, your gums around the spacers can swell up and become irritated. To reduce this effect, you can mix salt with warm water and gargle your mouth with it.
Taking Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin can be helpful in reducing the pain you feel. These drugs are used to reduce swelling and inflammation also to block pain signals to the brain.
Applying Some Numbing
GelOrajel and Anbesol are examples of numb gels that you can use, both of them contain benzocaine, a local anesthetic. Numbing gel can be very effective in relieving pain and inflammation associated with sore teeth and gums. However, you should only use the recommended amount as applying too much is dangerous to your health.
Using Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
Using sensitive toothpaste to brush can be helpful in reducing pain and sensitivity caused by spacers. Examples of these toothpastes are Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive. Brushing your teeth with one of these toothpastes 2-3 times a day to relieve the pain.
Watching what you Eat
There are certain foods that will not make your spacers become more painful and irritated.
WHAT TO EAT WITH SPACERS
You can eat with the spacers between your teeth. However, your orthodontist will tell you to stay away from certain foods to avoid pain and irritation.
Some foods are:
- Hard foods that need more strength while chewing, like nuts, corn on the cob, and raw hard fruits can lead to breaking of the wires in your braces. If you’re still on spacers, chewing hard foods can cause quite a bit of pain as well.
- Foods that are high in sugar and starch. This is because they can cause plaque to accumulate around spacers and braces, increasing chances for decay.
- Chewy, sticky foods like sweets and chewing gum can stick on and around the braces and spacers.
- Foods that are crunchy like popcorn and pretzels
HOW MUCH DO SPACERS FOR BRACES COST?
Spacers for braces are included with the cost of your braces because they are the first step to take in having braces. Based on American Dental Association survey results, the cost for comprehensive treatment with braces ranges from about $5,000 to about $7,000.
If you have dental insurance available, you can check if it covers orthodontic treatment — and if so, how much of the total cost you might be paying. Many orthodontists also offer installment payment plans to help spread out the cost.
HOW TO BRUSH WITH SPACERS
Even with the spacers for braces between your teeth, you can brush your teeth and maintain good dental hygiene. But you should be careful how you do this to avoid irritating the gums.
- First, rinse your mouth out with water.
- Next, gently brush all surfaces of your teeth with your toothbrush, taking special care with those back teeth.
- Rinse with water again.
You can floss your teeth to avoid plaques accumulating on the teeth. Do not try to floss the areas where the spacers are located because you might accidentally dislodge one.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR SPACERS FALLS OUT
Spacers for braces hardly falls off if you follow your orthodontist’s instructions carefully. However, your spacers might fall out before you return for your next appointment. You may need to get another set installed, or your orthodontist might decide that you already have enough space between your teeth
If the spacers do not fall off and the create the spaces for which they were fixed, you may just wear them for a week or two before your orthodontist removes them and puts metal bands around your back teeth.
Spacers for braces are the first step to getting braces for your teeth. They are placed usually between the molars, so that a molar band or other appliance can be placed as part of orthodontic treatment. These spacers for braces can make you feel pain and irritated but they are useful for you braces to fix your teeth problem.
They usually stay for a week or two weeks depending on how fast they create the space.
You should take precautions to avoid the spacers falling off too quick or accumulating germs and plaques. Maintain good dental hygiene and avoid certain foods especially hard, crunchy and chewy foods.